Do you wish you were more like your bestie who has all their ducks lined in a row? You know who I’m talking about: the one with the impeccable organisational skills, who manages to sift through a hefty number of tasks in next to no time.
The truth is it’s not that hard to develop this transferable skill, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to get through even the most challenging times and become more efficient in the process.
All you have to do is make a few tweaks to your normal schedule, and we’ve listed the steps you need to follow to achieve your goal of becoming better organised.
1. Make a Plan
Without adequate planning, certain details are likely to fall through the cracks. So, whatever you’re working on, it’s important to spend time figuring out what tools and resources are needed, how much time is necessary to carry out the task and what is the correct strategy to follow.
This goes for your career goals, too. For example, let’s say you want a promotion by the end of the year. In order to make it happen, you’ll need to prove why you deserve it and that you have all the necessary professional skills – so, set yourself some achievable goals to work towards and keep you motivated throughout the year.
2. Create a To-Do List
Make a new to-do list on a daily basis with all the things you need to do for the day (even if it’s something simple like filing or food shopping). By doing so, you won’t forget anything and you’ll also feel more productive as you tick off the tasks you complete.
To take things to the next level, prioritise the items on your list from high to low priority. You can do this by colour-coding or numbering items so you know which ones to complete first. On that note, it’s sometimes easier to prepare your list at the end of the day for the following day – that way you’ll be able to get straight down to business once you wake up.
3. Take Notes in Meetings
If you find yourself in another boring work meeting, you might think that you don’t need to take any notes and that you will simply remember everything that’s discussed. But let’s be honest: as soon you leave the room, you instantly forget what the whole point of the meeting was to begin with.
Taking notes will help you in the long run, especially when your boss is advising you about instructions for completing a specific project. That way, you won’t have to bother them with questions (that were probably already addressed in the meeting) and you’ll effectively be able to demonstrate how organised and proactive you are.
4. Use a Diary
An annual diary or calendar can really help you get your thoughts together and get organised. Use it to schedule appointments, make a weekly food menu and write down all your tasks, and allocate times to each event to ensure you make the most of your day. That said, it’s most likely that your day won’t go exactly as planned (for example, a last-minute change might come up that will need your urgent attention), so allow some time for emergencies.
5. Declutter Your Brain
It’s no secret that workplace stress will hold you back from doing your job. You’ll only end up unnecessarily wasting time worrying about things. That’s why it’s important that you declutter your brain and to take on one task at a time – and not try to multitask and accomplish too much in one go.
You could also try meditating in the morning to get rid of any stress and negative thoughts. In fact, a recent study on the influence of mindfulness and workplace stress found that after seven weeks of meditation, participants showed a heightened increase in awareness.
6. Invest in Storage Folders
It’s amazing what an impact a few pieces of stationery can make to your psyche and your overall organisation. Whether it’s for your house, classroom or office, investing in some storage bins, folders and trays to separate your belongings will make you instantly feel better.
7. Label Your Documents
What’s the point of having new and shiny files if you don’t know what’s in them? To truly reap the benefits of your newly organised desk or wardrobes, use labels to identify what’s in each of the storage bins. That way you’ll save time on sifting through piles of scrap paper or boxes of clothes to find the items that you need.
8. Have a ‘To-Do’ and a ‘Done’ Pile
If you’re dealing with a number of different tasks at once, keeping two separate trays (one for tasks that need to be done and another for tasks that have already been completed) might prove incredibly useful. You can even separate tasks in the ‘to-do’ tray with see-through sheets so you know how many are left to be actioned.
9. Create Your Own Filing System
A good personal filing system is essential for any professional. For example, you can create files with subfolders and separate your documents by category: invoices, receipts, doctor’s notes, contracts, projects, etc. Depending on your lifestyle, you’ll have your own preferred method, whether it’s in paper form or by using electronic devices.
10. Organise Your Desktop
If you’re guilty of having a messy desktop, it’s time to get sorting. Start dragging loose documents into categorised folders. You can even arrange the system on your shared server. For example, if there is a manual that your colleagues or classmates all follow but the files are saved all over the place, you can organise them into one neat folder that’s easy for everyone to locate.
11. Throw Away Unnecessary Items
We’re all guilty of hoarding items we don’t need, whether it’s an empty deodorant bottle at the back of our draw or printouts from two years ago.
It’s time to get rid of all that unnecessary junk and have a cleaner workspace or home. Allocate yourself half an hour at the end of the day every Friday to throw away unnecessary items and get organised so you are ready to start afresh by the time Monday comes back around.
12. Use Tech Tools
In today’s digital age, there are thousands of apps designed to help us stay focused and organised. If you prefer using technological devices, you can tap into a few apps to help you stay on track. Some great recommendations include Evernote for your to-do lists, Beep Me for setting reminders (iOS only), TripIt for making travel arrangements and Last Time for tracking all your tasks.
13. Manage Your Time
Being able to manage your time effectively is one of the most useful skills you can have in life. If you give yourself a certain amount of time to complete one of your duties, you’ll be able to trim off any unnecessary hours off your day.
So, instead of complaining about ‘not having enough hours in the day’, you’ll now be able to use those hours wisely, ensuring you complete, if not everything, most of what you set out to do.
14. Be an Early Bird
You’re most likely to achieve more out of your day if you wake up early. So, instead of rolling out of bed at 8:30am when you need to be in the office or classroom at 9am, why not wake up a little earlier? You’ll be able to get a good breakfast in and maybe even squeeze a quick workout in. Not only will this ensure you’re awake and full of energy, but it will also prepare you for the day ahead.
15. Learn to Delegate
Being able to delegate well is an acquired skill that many professionals lack. You should identify what skills your contemporaries have and how they can be used to achieve the best results for the entire team. Remember: although you might want to do everything yourself, it won’t be productive. Someone on your team may actually be better experienced in handling certain tasks, leaving you to focus on other important matters.
What are your favourite tips and tricks for getting organised? Join in on the conversation below to let us know…